Memorial Day my family and I had the great pleasure of participating in a shadow run/walk for charity (which just means it’s a run wherever you are. There’s no official race location). It also happened to be a cross training day for me, but as of that morning I hadn’t decided what sort of activity exactly I’d be crossing into considering it was about 80 degrees already nearing our start time at 9AM and my legs hadn’t totally recovered from the Saturday hot humid long run. And the hotter it got as we neared go time, the more I started leaning towards an expected 5K of run, walk, skip, jump, stop, start, push a stroller, piggyback a 4 year old being all the cross training I needed for the day.
Then SHE showed up.
Cute as a button and all smiles. Long black ponytail. Gym shorts and a cotton t-shirt. Twelve years old and wearing a pair of running shoes.
Ruby came with my niece. Now, I’ve met Ruby before at birthday parties and such. She’s a cousin on the other side of the family, but I didn’t know much about her. So when she and my niece took off hard at the start, I figured no big deal. I’ve run with plenty of kids before. In fact, prior to having my own, when I worked as a Recreation Coordinator, I used to organize a running club every summer for kids ages 8-14. And nearly every single one of them ran the same way when we started, as fast as they could for as long as they could which typically wasn’t very long, generally 100-200 meters, on occasion somebody would bust out a entire 1/4 mile. But that was it. Our goal, besides having fun (and popsicles) was to slow them down a touch and increase their stamina, eventually working them up to running one mile continuously, which almost every single one of them did at the end of the summer at a fun run during a neighboring city’s festival.
So when these two girls took off, I just turned around and shouted to the rest of the crew, “I’ll go with them,” not only because I didn’t like the idea of them running the trails alone, but also because I figured by a half mile I’d be back with everyone else leisurely walking and probably looking for the perfect stick, stone, leaf or whatever had piqued my daughter’s interest for the moment.
Not too long after we started running, my niece (who also happens to be quite the little athlete by the way) dropped back and started walking. One down. I thought to myself. She sprinted back up a short while later, but it took about all she had to do so and she fell back with the rest of the group after that.
But not Ruby. Nope. Not only did Ruby keep running, she wasn’t losing pace, she looked good, great form, and wasn’t even breathing hard. Actually, she was talking to me too.
As we neared what I thought must be getting close to one mile, I finally looked at her and said “Ruby, do you run often?” To which came the surprising reply, “Yep. I run for an hour everyday.”
Now, I think the actual words that came out of my mouth were something along the lines of “that’s great!” but what I was thinking was “oh shoot. I’m actually running this thing today.”
And my very next move? Why, start timing her of course! I had my watch on just so I could see what time it was, but I hadn’t started it. I mean, I hadn’t really seen the need at first figuring it was going to be more of a stroll than anything else and it was highly likely I’d be turning around early because my 40lb kid was getting too heavy to carry. But that all changed the moment I found out she was a runner. I knew we were running at a pretty good clip already and I wanted to see how fast this girl could go.
Here’s what she did:
Mile 2- 10:27 (now this mile she definitely slowed down a touch from mile one. It was hot, humid, a little hilly and no shade. I’m thinking mile one was around 10 minute/mile pace)
Mile 3- 9:55
.1 – 0:50
2.1 Miles- 21:13 (so estimating 31:13 for her 5K)
So surprise surprise for me eh? This from a girl who has no running club, no track team, and no cross country team, at least not until she gets to high school. It’s just her on her own running. She likes it. She’s good at it. She finishes hard. She wants to excel at sports. And she wants to run a marathon (a very fast marathon) one day.
So now I need to ask a favor. If you all would be so kind as to please leave a comment for Miss Ruby to encourage her on her running way that would be sweet. Let her know where your from too so she knows people from all over are rooting for her. Maybe even a little advice for her as she gets started.
Rock on Ruby! Always give it your best and you are going to do some mighty big things girl!